International travel set to resume in July. Masks mandatory for many airlines. Aer Lingus waives change fee for all bookings up to 30th September. Ryanair clarifies its position on vouchers and refunds. Cruise companies announce changes to schedules.
I will be updating this post regularly with travel updates due to coronavirus, so bookmark it and make it your go-to post for the latest travel information. If you have queries in relation to airline refunds and vouchers, these posts might also be of interest:
Many European countries set to welcome international visitors in July
What seemed like a pipe dream only weeks ago, looks soon to be a reality. Ryanair recently announced that it would operate 40% of its flights in July, and now with many European countries opening for international visitors, it is possible that we will be able get a holiday in the sun this summer. Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain, four of our key summer holiday destinations, have all stated that they expect to be open for international tourists in July, without quarantine measures in place.
Like many airlines, Aer Lingus have confirmed that face masks are now mandatory, while Ryanair stated that it is possible that there will be temperature checks at airports – Air France and Air Canada have already announced that a temperature below 38°C is required to travel. While social distancing is not possible on board aircrafts, there will be extra distancing measures in place in airports, and in-flight services will be reduced. See more on Ryanair’s video here:
What if you don’t want to travel?
The current government advice is against non-essential travel, with 14 day self isolation required when you return into Ireland. While I assume this advice will be amended in July, I can not understand how we are ‘allowed’ travel abroad, but not allowed travel within Ireland (beyonf 20km radius) until the 20th of July. This is something that we urgently need clarification on from government.
However, as it stands currently (21st May), if you do you wish to travel but the flights are operating, you are not entitled to a refund. You should be able to change your travel dates, but if you cancel because you do not want to fly, that is seen as your own personal decision.
If the government advice is still in place against non-essential travel, then you may be able to claim on your travel insurance. You will need to have had a policy taken out with travel disruption cover or government advice, before the advice came into effect.
Cruise lines & Tour Operators latest updates:
- TUI has cancelled all holidays until the 11th of June. You can amend all holidays up to the 11th of July free of charge, but fare differences will apply. Their customer service teams are working from home and they are asking that you don’t call or message them unless it is urgent. They will be in touch with you to discuss your options.
- MSC has cancelled all sailings until 10th July 2020. Guests affected will receive a Future Cruise Credit of the value of 125%. If you are not in a position to take a Future Cruise credit, MSC Cruises will refund 100% of the balance paid on Cruise only and Fly Cruises.
- Princess Cruises cancel all operations for the entire summer season. Passengers can request a full refund or receive 125% cruise credit.
- Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara and Silversea have cancelled all sailings until the 31st July. Passengers can request a full refund, a 125% cruise credit or can change existing cruise to 2021 at the same cost – see more here.
- Norwegian Cruise Line have cancelled all sailings until 31st July. Passengers can request a full refund or receive 125% or 150% cruise credit, depending on departure date. Cruise credit is valid until December 2022.
Refunds and Vouchers:
Many airlines are offering vouchers instead of refunds and there has been a lot of confusion across the travel industry. The Irish government has recently backed a new refund credit note that can be used by travel agents and tour operators to give to customers instead of a refund – note this is not applicable to airlines. These credit notes will be guaranteed by the state in the event that the travel agent or tour operator ceases trading. It will be issued with a future redeemable date, and on that date it can be exchanged for its cash, or can be used to book another holiday. According to Shane Ross, ‘the refund credit note aims to strike a balance between preventing sector-wide bankruptcy (with associated immediate job losses) and consumer rights.’
While Ryanair and Aer Lingus are ‘officially’ offering refunds for cancelled flights, they are actively trying to get passengers to accept vouchers or change their departure dates. Other travel companies are not offering refunds at all. I have full list of my most popular questions answered, and the links to apply for refunds in these posts:
Aer Lingus allow passengers due to travel before 30th September to change their travel dates.
If you are due to travel on an Aer Lingus flight before the 30th September, you can change your travel date free of charge. If the flight you choose is a higher value, the fare difference will apply.
Aer Lingus allow passengers due to travel before 30th June to apply for a travel voucher.
If you are due to travel on an Aer Lingus flight before the 30th June you may apply for a voucher for the full value of your flights (including taxes and charges), plus an extra 10% bonus. So if you flight cost a total of €200, they will send you a €220 voucher. These vouchers can be used against multiple flights and are valid for five years. See full terms & Conditions here.
Ryanair ask customers to accept vouchers and suggest refunds will be given when Covid-19 crisis is over.
There is a lot of confusion over Ryanair’s latest emails in relation to refunds. They have asked customers to accept vouchers instead of refunds and have confirmed that they will offer a refund after the expiry date of the voucher, if the voucher has not been used. They have also stated that if you don’t want to accept a voucher you can apply for refund, but they wont be processed until after the Covid-19 crisis has passed.
Latest statement from Ryanair, 6th May 2020
- The processing time for cash refunds is taking far longer than normal as we are processing over 1,000 times the normal volume of cancellations. We also have 75% fewer staff available to process refunds due to social distancing restrictions.
- Ryanair is offering vouchers and free moves as these are automated and give customers an immediate alternative. Unfortunately, cash refunds cannot be automated. Customers who choose a voucher, but don’t redeem it within 12 months may still apply for and obtain a refund after this 12 month period.
- Customers who choose not to accept a free move or voucher will receive their refund in due course, once this crisis has passed. Over the coming weeks and months, we will be working hard to process refund requests as quickly as we can.
- We sincerely apologise for these unavoidable refund delays which are due to the unprecedented volume of Govt. imposed flight cancellations and we sincerely thank customers for their patience.
These emails are being sent individually so if you have not received one yet, it should come in due course. However if you have already applied for a refund, you do not need to re apply, Ryanair have stated that you are already in the ‘refund queue’. If you do not want to accept a voucher and have not yet applied for a refund, you can do this by using this link . They are also accepting messages via Facebook.
Advice against non-essential travel to ALL overseas destinations.
The government is advising against all non-essential travel overseas. This includes Great Britain, but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all cruise ship travel. As well as our own advice against non-essential travel there are numerous flight bans in place across the globe where tourists will be refused entry. Check the latest travel advice on the Department of Foreign Affairs website
Qatar Airways offer more flexibility on new and existing bookings.
Qatar Airways is one of the few airlines that is still operating flights into Dublin Airport. It is the most direct route for Irish travellers who are currently looking to come home from Asia or Australasia.
Qatar Airways also offers flexibility to their customers for new or existing bookings. Customers can change their travel date free of charge, choose to receive a travel voucher for the full unutilised value of their ticket plus an additional 10 percent of the fare cost, or apply for a refund, which will take up to 30 days to process.
British Airways and Etihad Airways announce flexible booking arrangements.
British Airways are allowing all passengers to change to a new flight with no change fee or exchange their ticket for a credit worth the full value of the original ticket.
Etihad Airways is allowing all passengers due to travel before 30th June the opportunity to change the date or destination of their flight free of charge, use the value of your ticket as credit towards future trips or request a refund if you are due to travel on a route that has an extended period of cancellation.
G Adventures suspends all tours until 31st July.
Any traveller booked on a tour departing before the 31st of May will be eligible for a 110% travel credit of all land services, including pre or post nights and transfers, which can be used on any tour departing within the next two years.
US bans travel from Europe including UK & Ireland.
President Donald Trump has amended the US travel ban to include Ireland and UK effective midnight 16th March.The ban applies to anyone who has been in Europe within 14 days prior to their arrival in the US. This does not apply to US citizens, however they will have to undergo health screenings on arrival.
Travel Insurance to exclude Covid-19 for new policies issued.
With effect from 6pm on Monday 16th March 2020, a general exclusion for Covid-19 (Coronavirus) will apply to all new Blue Insurance travel insurance policies issued by travel agencies. This general exclusion will apply to all sections of the policy document. It is likely that all insurance companies will follow suit. Schedule Airline Failure and Third Party Supplier Insolvency will also be temporarily withdrawn.
Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.
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